Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wandering Monsters

I consider myself sort of a "Dynamic" DM. Meaning, when I write an adventure for my players, I have an outline and maps ready and then I "Go with the flow". I will have certain encounters prepared, like BBEG's etc, but the rest is free form and I try to judge how the flow of the game is going and how battered the characters are.

But even before I became that type of DM, I don't really remember wandering monsters stumbling on the party. I would always look at the table in the module, but I would inevitably skip right past it when we were actually playing the adventure. I'm not sure if I was too engrossed in what was in the next room or if I just forgot, but I never had random encounters. And to be honest, I don't think the players ever knew the difference.

Of course, there was always the ominous dice shake when the party was bedding down for the night, but I'm not even sure I ever had them encounter anything then either. I would just roll dice to keep them on their toes.

Do random encounters and wandering monsters add to the spontaneity of an adventure, or is it just a reason to cause a wee more damage? Am I missing half the fun by not having a group of orcs stumble on the party in the middle of the hallways rather than just having them sitting around a table gambling  in the next room?

Now that I think about it, hallways always seemed to be sort of a "safe" zone for the party to plan their next action. A place to listen at doors and then decide how they were going to slaughter the rooms inhabitants. Heck, hallways are where you put traps, not random monsters. Maybe I have been missing something all these years. I need to rethink my whole DMing strategy. 

That's it, next time I write an adventure, EVERYTHING will be in the hallways. No more monsters in rooms. It's gonna be like Dungeons & Dragons High School during recess. Orcs will be standing around in the hallways shooting spit wads at the goblins, A cute little succubus in a cheerleader outfit will be trying to catch the eye of the captain of the Ogre football team, Three kobolds in taped glasses will be huddled together trying to navigate around a a gang of gnolls in leather jackets and the beholder principal will be stalking the corridors looking for miscreants causing trouble.

Each door along the 10' wide hallway will be conspicuously labeled with the appropriate room number and what the mind flayer professor is teaching within. And believe me, this will be one dungeon where you don't wanna wind up in detention.


  1. Looking forward to reading about that. :)

  2. Monster High School.

    You should let the players play the monsters ala Monsters! Monsters!

    Who wouldn't want to be the Succubus Cheerleader or Ogre linebacker?

  3. damn it...now I have actually write this thing!! Too many good ideas running through my head.

    Do you think monsters actually go to school to learn how to protect dungeons and raid neighboring villages? Sort of like Hogwarts for monsters.

  4. Good post, I always liked the random encounter chart since all encounters need not be hostile. Sometimes a random encounter becomes the link to a further adventure. I think an adventurer survivor school could be a fun gaming session, or a whole section of a campaign. What if some mind controlling, charismatic or powerfully charming individual enabled other monsters to overcome their animosities and work together for their own survival? Has fun potential.


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